Ballyshear Golf Links in Thailand opens for member play

  • Ballyshear
    Ban Rakat Club

    Gil Hanse’s Ballyshear Golf Links has opened for member play at Ban Rakat Club in Thailand (the Alps tenth green, pictured)

  • Ballyshear
    Ban Rakat Club

    The sixth at Ballyshear is a 420-yard par four called ‘Plateau’

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Ban Rakat Club near Bangkok, Thailand, has opened all 18 holes of Ballyshear Golf Links – designed by Gil Hanse – for member play.

The new course was ready for play on 1 August, but the Thai government issued Covid-19 restrictions that prevented members from playing Hanse’s homage to Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor’s Lido Golf Club until September.

With restrictions now lifted, members at Ban Rakat can now play all 18 holes of the Lido-inspired layout. “The course is so beautiful,” said Takeyasu Aiyama, chairman of Yokohama International, the development company behind the project. “Thanks to Mr Hanse, Ballyshear Links is a project of great stylistic and historical significance.”

Hanse’s design built on the former Kiarti Thanee course has seen him recreate and reinterpret every template hole from the original Lido, which was built in 1918 and abandoned during World War II, with 16 holes of Hanse’s version in the same order. Only the second and sixth holes were swapped in the Thai routing, due to constraints inherent to site boundaries. 

The vintage nature of the Ballyshear course is rare in southeast Asia, with most layouts in the region being of a modern design. “There is risk to our approach, naturally,” said Aiyama. “However, we are determined to create something unique in the marketplace and accept the risk. As a private club, we need only appeal to the existing members and attract new ones and that process is going very well.”

More than 160 Kiarti Thanee members have transferred their memberships to Ban Rakat Club. These members and others had been playing the back nine at Ballyshear since early 2021.

“Gil Hanse has created for Ban Rakat Club a vintage-style course that all the members and their guests will love,” said Aiyama. “We are certain of that. What’s more, because we are the first to leverage this particular style of golf course here in Thailand, Ballyshear will stand out as utterly unique in this market. In our experience, that type of differentiation is rarely a bad thing.”

A grand opening of the golf course has been scheduled for early 2022.

Yokohama International has also reserved space next to the clubhouse, which is scheduled to open in December, on adjacent land for future hotel development. The hotel and new practice facility will form part of the next phase of work.